Costa Rica

#Mots-clés : Dernière mise à jour le 7 June 2019



The oldest evidence of human occupation in Costa Rica is associated with the arrival of groups of hunter-gatherers around 10,000 to 7000 years before our era, with ancient archaeological evidence (manufacture of stone tools) located in the Valley of Turrialba. (5)

Costa Rica was discovered by Christopher Columbus on September 25, 1502, on his fourth voyage. He picks up a few gold items you got from the Indians, it served to spread the idea that this region was a “rich coast”, prompting adventurers to take further explorations and served as a magnet for settlers by the existence of this alleged gold wealth. The country has experienced different stages of conquest. A society and a colonial government moved from 1575 to 1821. (5)

Costa Rica gained independence from the Spanish Empire on September 15, 1821. Costa Rica has avoided whenever possible, much of the violence that has plagued Central America. Since the late nineteenth century, only two periods of relative violence have marked its democratic development. (5)

Costa Rica is a Central Unit constitutional republic with a presidential system. Costa Rica is a multiparty republic in which the president is head of state and head of government at the same time. Executive power is exercised by the government, while the National Assembly is the legislature. The judiciary, inspired by the Spanish system is independent of the executive and legislative branches. (5)


The Central American Population Centre of the University of Costa Rica proposes information on the demographics of the country:







Since 1949 – Article 65 of the Constitution : The State shall promote popular housing construction and family heritage of the worker.

Source: CETIM (publication COHRE)


There are phenomena evictions Costa Rica because they promote industrial megaprojects. An example is the struggle of the indigenous people of the Térrabas to keep their land. Recently the government has been trying to start building a hydroelectric dam which cost approximately two billion dollars. The project would displace people who have lived there for over 500 years, destroy indigenous lands, and would have a major negative impact on biodiversity.

According to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, it is estimated that 90 percent of titled land is occupied illegally by non-indigenous population with tacit or formal approval of the Government.”





  • THE CONDOMINIUM : is a property that belongs to several people. In a condominium there are areas that are of each owner in particular and there are areas that are common property. The property and condominium living are governed by the Condominium Act. The condo is also a way of life in community, where residents have to agree to make this work properly. The key is a healthy coexistence, based on consideration, respect and collaboration among all families. Manual FUPROVI to promote the condo:
  • UN TECHO PARA MI PAIS – CORPORATE BUILDINGS : A roof for my country is the program that aims to bring a decent roof Costa Ricans and foreigners living in houses made of cardboard, plastic and scrap in Costa Rica. This program develops volunteers and private companies. The project

Social and economic aspects



Since the creation of SFNV (National Housing Finance System), 25 years ago, the country has invested a huge amount of resources in the housing sector through family housing bonds. BANHVI figures said they were delivered about 300 thousand family housing bonds in recent years, which means a quarter of the total employed individual dwellings (VIO) in 2011 according to data from the census of that year. The enormous amount of resources invested in housing for low-income, is only part of the total national investment in housing. (1)

Housing deficit

Housing Deficit indicator calculated in the traditional way, invisible the housing problem, since most of the houses in fair condition and homes in good condition but with some of its components (roof, walls and floor) in condition regularly left out of the calculation of the deficit and, by definition, these are homes that require some intervention because your state is not one hundred percent good. (1)

The fact that it has not grown the amount of bad housing is good but not enough. The existence of nearly 100,000 poor households occupied, indicates that about 400,000 people live in unsuitable houses for that purpose, are homes that threaten the health and safety of its occupants and offer no protection against the environment and performing the basic functions expected of a dwelling; safety, security, recreation, rest, eat, study, etc. (1)

The Housing Deficit Traditional, rose from 14.4% of the individual dwelling occupied in 2011 to represent 13.8% in 2012. (1)

Unoccupied dwelling and change of use

In connection with the construction of housing is important to highlight what happens to individual unoccupied dwelling (VID). During 2007 and 2008 there was a sharp increase in the number of houses built, though not all these houses went to meet the housing needs of the country. A percentage of these constructs responded to the “housing bubble”, building homes for recreational use or as an investment. That is why it has grown the number of unemployed individual dwellings (VID). According to Census 2011, there were 147,204 unemployed individual homes, which represent one tenth of the total households in the country. (INEC, 2011). This means that in recent years, a significant proportion of homes built, were not designed to meet the housing needs of the population. (1)

As part of a normal process, every year an undetermined number of houses disappear as a result of a change of use or physical demise. These are buildings that were once home and ceased to be, went to other uses such as offices, shops, warehouses, etc., a situation that has been presented in the most central areas of most cities. Use change Kingdom disappearance of houses by the passing of the property occurs, ie, the homes have been destroyed, for various reasons, whether disrepair, change of use, or to build new homes. (1)

Property or rental

The country has failed to meet the demand for adequate housing in different income strata of the population. 70% of households have home ownership, while the remaining 30% live in households that are not owned. Of the total households with home ownership, 42% of them are part of the Deficit Qualitative Real. DCR 79% of households with home ownership is concentrated in households with incomes up to 4 minimum wages. (1)

There is a lot of households that do not own their homes, it is 29% of households according to the National Household Survey 2012 (INEC, 2012). Of the nearly four hundred thousand households that do not have their own housing, 61.7% live in homes that are part of the Deficit Qualitative Real, ie, about 244,768 households. (1)


The variation in the size of households is one aspect, demographic, more interesting influencing the housing situation. Costa Rica has experienced a process of “shrinking” the size of households. In 1984, the average size of households in the country was 4.7 persons; in 2000 was reduced to 4 and, in 2011, dropped to 3.5. This meaning is that more and more households, necessitating a greater number of houses to accommodate the same number of people of 11 or 25 years ago. (1)



According to the National Institute of Statistics and Census, the country 418 informal settlements in occupied dwellings including 76 057 78 304 households, for a total population of 296,149 people counted were identified. FUPROVI think identifying poor housing and slums by the census, the current corresponding to 2011, have methodological problems that lead to underreporting of these cases, hence the INEC developed a classification of “informal settlements” but the methodology is not necessarily all homes listed in these settlements respond to situations of precarious and slums. What it is clear is that a significant number of people live in poor conditions and that this is a plight to resolve as a country, as a society. (1)

The focus of informal settlements is very complex, including a huge list of problems and situations can be mentioned at least four major categories of limitations that ultimately all are concatenated into a difficult plot to overcome (1):
  • Legal aspects, mainly related to the ownership of the land. Most informal settlements are located on public land and the possibilities to transfer, donate or sell property of the state is not easy. Also some of the occupied lands are intended for construction or planned investments and state. Similarly the current planning regulations becomes restricted the possibilities of attention to the situation that actually exists and do not have any options for reviewing, flexible and adapt the rules to the existing reality.
  • Spatial physical aspects: encounters situations unsuitable land for residential use, as areas of protection, for example, water bodies, easements, or earrings. Some lands are vulnerable to natural or anthropogenic threats or because regulation (regulatory plans) have not indicated that location and residential use or because the settlement exceeds the allowable density.
  • Socio-economic aspects. There may be mentioned situations like that family income is not enough for a home loan at market price, hence the subsidy is required. Moreover, some families have gross income, relatively high, which reduced their chances of getting a housing voucher, but in reality their net income is lower due to debts (appliances, credit cards, loans, etc.). The situation of these households is complex because it does not qualify for state subsidy of BFV because their nominal incomes are higher than the cap established, but then are not creditworthy because their disposable income is low for credit or at least the amount desired. (…)
  • Institutional political aspects. On the one hand institutions called to intervene and solve part of the problem and not do for years; lack of resources, fear, disability management and lack of political will. Moreover, little or no involvement of local governments in resolving the situation, or because they demonstrate opposition to proposed solutions. In some cases regulatory plans become a barrier to finding solutions, in others, the mayor, munícipes or neighbors oppose the development of housing projects for low income families or relocation of informal settlements.



The Costa Rican government began testing some proposals during the administration of Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno (1910-1914), which were aimed at wealthy families to provide them resistant to natural phenomena houses of better quality. By 1922, Law No. 23 was created to ensure poor families get home without paying national and municipal taxes, besides being indefeasible. (2)


A bill was passed by Congress and signed by the President of the Republic on November 13, 1986. On that date born Mortgage Housing Bank (BANHVI) defined by Act No. 7052 as an entity of public law , non-state and leading character of the National Financial System for Housing. Its initial capital was composed by a State contribution billion colones and the transfer of the Central Savings and Loan Agricultural Credit Bank of Cartago. (2)

Two funds (2) were created:
  • The National Housing Fund (FONAVI) made up 25% of the portfolio of temporary investments of resources Disability Insurance, Old Age and Death of deposits and borrowings CAPTARE who hires.
  • While the Fund Grants for Housing (FOSUVI) was constituted by 30% of the annual resources of the Development Fund of Family Allowances, 3% of the annual budget of the Republic and extraordinary budgets.

The law stated that the benefit of the subsidy would be provided by a relative, partial or total bonus according to the value of the home, but not as a donation. In the Calderón Fournier (1990-1994) Administration Act was amended to establish a free bonus of housing, which aimed to open a larger solidarity required to solve the problem of housing in Costa Rica. (2)


The new social housing does not have maximum prices fixed. Their prices correspond to the costs of populations made by cooperatives, mutual associations or other organizations, at cost of self-construction projects or, at bargain prices of private residential construction companies. The range of cost prices of these homes has been between the equivalent of US $ 7,400 for housing 30-40 m2 built in batches of 90 m2, and US $ 21,600 for households of more than 100 m2 built in Lot 120 m2 of land. The total number of homes built in that period (1987-1997) is an average of about 30,000 homes per year. (4)

Urban development has brought considerable increases in the price of urban land without the new social housing policy had commissioned public sector entities or municipalities tasks related to the reservation of land for these homes. A severe obstacle to access to social housing has been the high market price reached lots of urbanized land. The families are left with a remnant of insufficient allowance to finance the construction of their homes. (4)

¿What are the necessary conditions?

The requirements to apply for a housing subsidy constitute a household are not homeownership, lower family income and demonstrate to the fourth tier wage (and where the former has a maximum monthly income equivalent to a minimum wage of an unskilled worker in the construction). The entry of the following layers is obtained by multiplying the income by the number of the respective layer (eg, income of the second layer is equal to the first income doubled). (4)

Family income determines the surface and the ends of the housing which can apply a householder. This standard aims to dimension the amount of housing subsidy inversely to family income, mortgage loans directly with the ability to pay of that income, and the proportions of subsidy in decreasing the price of housing. (4)

Families of the first tier wage qualify for the maximum allowance, which is equal to thirty minimum wages of an unskilled laborer in construction, and amounts to about $ 4900 US dollars. This amount can cover the full price of a house of 30-40 m2 without its share of developed land. Families with higher incomes but not exceeding the fourth tier wage can arrange a mortgage for housing more expensive and better standards (in terms of floor area, materials, finishes, and size, and location of the site). (4)

Who is responsible for the system of subsidies?

Their preparation procedures on the SFNV authorized entities, including public and private banks, mutual societies, cooperatives and a private foundation (FUPROVI). Centers are to verify compliance with the requirements of the relevant application and submit grant applications to BANMHO. The latter approves or rejects requests and places the household heads with approved housing subsidy waiting list. Housing subsidies should be granted in the order of admission to that list. (4)

Several factors have hindered the transparency and fairness in the application to housing subsidies. First, many families do not file applications and displaying family housing grant as a prerogative of BANMHO or government authorities. Second, the authorized entities have a discretionary leeway in the processing and remittance of records, allowing assert their own priorities before the BANMHO. Third, as the BANMHO allocates resources for housing subsidies discretionary criteria among authorized entities, payment of family allowances for housing in practice does not follow the order of the waiting list (Grynspan and Melendez, 1999). (4)

The lack of standards has not prevented savings cooperatives, mutuals and some savings banks to establish requirements for access to social housing credits. (4)

Any secundary market for social housing ?

The rules on housing subsidies have put severe restrictions on the development of a secondary market for social housing. Families receiving family housing bonds may not sell, transfer or donate their property for a period of ten years, except in exceptional cases linked to separations between spouses and the transfer of householders to other areas of the country. Families who are placed in these cases may request authorization to BANMHO to perform these operations, but at the cost of having to reinstate the latter entire housing subsidy. Similar prohibition applies to lease social housing, on pain of having to repay the entity the subsidy received. (4)

These restrictions have caused distortions in the social housing market. First, a sharp housing to “bind” to families receiving housing allowance to their homes immobility. This has prevented housing changes linked to improvements in their economic situation and prevented other families can acquire, contributing to a qualitative housing deficit. Second, they have encouraged the emergence of unregulated market (“black”) in which social housing and lease traded informally (Grynspan and Melendez, 1999). (4)

Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic

Environmental aspects

Bibliography & Sitography



According FUPROVI, can synthesize the state of the housing problems in three areas of work

  • New housing, which can be built from the privacy of households with own or have limited access to credit in the financial system resources. Then there are those households whose income allows them insufficient credit for a solution housing, thus requiring complement that credit with a housing voucher. Then there is the group of families whose incomes do not allow them to obtain credit in the financial system and, therefore, rely on family housing bonds. Finally, there is the group of families who do not qualify for a loan or for a BFV.
  • Maintenance and improvement of existing housing; it is the component of the larger housing deficit, homes that need to be improved and extended, which possibly are in the hands of households that require some type of financing to carry out the intervention of their homes, because if contasen resources own, it would be logical to make the necessary improvements.
  • Informal settlements; actually this group homes are located in one of the other two groups, as it tries to build new or improve existing housing. However, for the characteristics described above for the particular situation of these settlements is proposed as an axis of independent work.

According to the FORO DE VIVIENDA, it is important not to reduce funding for social good houses that administrat Mortgage Housing Bank (BANMHO).


  • FUPROVI = private development organization, founded in Costa Rica in June 1987, with the aim of supporting low-income families solve their housing and community development needs. For 25 years, they have developed housing projects, under the approach of Social Production of Habitat, using the methodology of assisted self, with the active participation of the families involved in the management, administration and construction of infrastructure and housing of your project housing.
  • LA DEFENSORIA DE LOS HABITANTES = a controller organ that is part of the legislature. The purpose of this institution is to ensure that public sector activity complies with the law and morality, so that the rights and interests of the inhabitants are always protected.
  • FORO NACIONAL DE VIVIENDAOrganization of housing groups at national level
  • HABITAT FOR HUMANITY COSTA RICA = Habitat for Humanity began its work in Costa Rica in 1987 and is developing housing projects. He also expanded the product range to include land purchase, house purchase and credit for improvements constructed (repairs, additions, improvements and terminations).